So I'll start with Paul Simon. My friends all know I'm the Simon fangirl, and I can't think of a song of his that I absolutely hate (even the insipid "Cars Are Cars" off Hearts and Bones has its moments of brilliance, and so many of his songs have touched me and changed me and gotten me through some very tough times. So picking just one is hard. I mean, with such brilliance as "Sounds of Silence", "Only Living Boy in New York", "Cathy's Song", "Hazy Shade of Winter", "Something So Right", "Loves Me Like a Rock"...you get the idea. So I'm going to go with a more obscure song.
The aforementioned Hearts and Bones album is universally agreed as Simon's worst. The aforementioned "Cars are Cars" are on it, along with such subpar tunes as "Allergies", "When Numbers Get Serious" and "Think Too Much". But there's some wonderful gems as well, such as the title track, "Song About the Moon", "The Late Great Johnny Ace", "Train in the Distance" and this song, which I think is up there among my favourite Simon tunes of all time:
Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War. Simon took the title from a picture caption, and wove a gorgeous song out of it, fitting the subject (as Rene Magritte was a well-known surrealist painter), the words are some of the most gorgeous poetry you'll hear, and the music is brilliant. Picking a favourite Simon tune is hard, but this one is definitely up there..
Runners up: Something So Right, I Am a Rock, Only Living Boy in New York, American Tune, Myth of Fingerprints, The Coast, Cool Cool River, Boy in the Bubble, Trailways Bus... I could go on listing, but there's almost too many to list. :)
My second favourite song comes from a Canadian group called Great Big Sea. First of all, they do a kickass live show, full of energy and vibe and vibrant, and they're just cooler than cool. That and they're from the tropical island of Newfoundland, which never fails to make me giggle. Again, it's hard picking a favourite song out of their catalog, but I think I have to go with:
Feel It Turn. I've a slight preference for the studio version over the live version, but I love the way Sean McCann introduces it on the live CD track. "This song is about all the days your luck is not going so good, because the next day is going to be better." It's a hard song to listen to and *not* come away with hope for the future. There's no wonder I have been using a pair of lines from this song as my sig line for the last year.
Runners Up: Consequence Free, Sea of No Cares (Patrick's and my song), Lucky Me, Process Man, Twa Recruiting Sergeants, Gideon Brown.
The third one is a joint song by two of the best woman folksingers out there, in my opinion, who are Dar Williams and Joan Baez.Now there are many Dar Williams songs I considered for this. I am, unfortunately, less familiar with Joan Baez, but I've liked the little bit I've heard. And I've fallen in love with this tune:
You're Aging Well. This strikes me as a very powerful tune, that you can be yourself despite a world insisting that you have to be like everybody else. And it tracks very well the struggle I had through high school and college, to be an original but yet not so much of one that I start scaring people. And that it's okay to grow older and yet still struggle, and that everybody's got something to teach.
Runner up Dar Williams songs: We Learned the Sea, After All, I Had No Right, Christians and the Pagans, Iowa, If I Wrote You, End of the Summer, The Ocean, The Great Unknown. And I also like the Williams/Baez cover of the S&G tune Dangling Conversation.
I'm a sucker for Christian music. I'm not, but there's a lot of contemporary Christian music and bands that I rather like. Five Iron Frenzy, Jars of Clay, and Michael W. Smith seem to top the list here, but I'm also fond of some of the old fashioned spirituals. Of those, Sinner Man, Joshua, and Amazing Grace stand out as my all time favourites, and Amazing Grace is the top of that list. Glancing through my collection, I see it done by groups as varied as Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Paul Simon, the Lakota Indians, and a bagpipes version. But my absolute favourite has to be this song:
Amazing Grace. This version is done by the Blind Boys of Alabama and exploits the fact that Amazing Grace is one of the songs written in Common Meter, and sings it to the tune of House of the Rising Sun. It takes what is already a striking tune and makes it yet more haunting. It's no wonder it lives up there high on my list of favourite songs.
I'm also a sucker for well done musicals. This is an obsession I was introduced to by aris_tgd who handed around some good tracks from Andrew Lloyd Weber, and it's only grown from listening to the Capeman concept album (I'd have killed for the cast recording for that, but alas, it was never released. Capeman, btw, was a musical by Paul Simon and Derek Wolcott.) I've also got parts of Children of Eden that I listen to over and over and over. Rent also kicks much ass, as does Avenue Q and Chess, and I'm going to have to move to a city so I can see more musicals.
But the one that's been occupying most of my processor cycles is Wicked. There's a song for every mood on that soundtrack, I swear, and I've worn them all out listening. Defying Gravity is a get up and meet your dreams no matter what, and No Good Deed sings the tale of my depressions, and What Is This Feeling? defines the role I seemed to have in middle and the early part of high school. But my favourite is:
For Good. It's one of those songs that sums up friendship, even one that's rocky and falling apart. My life is richer because I have allowed myself to get to know people and have them change me for the best. And that's what this song sums up. And I have so many friends that I'm so privleged and lucky to have...
The last song in this list is one introduced to me by mrfnord last year. I'm a sucker for the music, mainly. But even the opening of the song is one that strikes me as rather powerful, and thus it's become one of my favourites despite the short time I've had to know and appreciate the song. And while I've never had the chance to see much anime, I've got friends that do, and they throw the music around like it's going out of style. And I'll have to say, Yoko Kanno is nearly the singlehanded reason I want to see Cowboy Bebop.
So what is this song?
Gotta Knock A Little Harder. As I said, I like the music, and the song seems to speak to me.
I hope you enjoyed this tour through my most favourite songs ever for this week. Picking just six is hard, when I could do a top 100 easy. ;)
And tagging? I nominate zibblsnrt, tropism, aris_tgd, and mrfnord, but all should feel welcome to do it if they feel up to it. ;)